Saint Leo Hosts Visiting Author-Artists for Seven Days of Public Presentations

July 11, 2017

Benjamin Busch  Craig Finn  Brooke KingFrom left: Benjamin Busch, Craig Finn, and Brooke King.

Novelists, poets, memoirists from the Iraq war, and a songwriter known for his narrative creations are among the distinguished visiting artists performing in early-evening sessions from Saturday, July 15, through Friday, July 21 at Saint Leo University. The events, free and open to the public, feature renowned artists who are here to teach during the summer residency session of Saint Leo University’s Master of Arts in creative writing program.

Several of the visiting speaker/performers create in more than one art form. The week of events are bookended by singer-songwriter Craig Finn, and writer and filmmaker Benjamin Busch, this year’s selections as the Saint Leo University Distinguished Visiting Artists. Busch, who is scheduled to appear on Friday, July 21, is an actor known for his appearances on three seasons of the HBO television show The Wire,  as well as for his memoir Dust to Dust,  chronicling two tours of duty in Iraq as a U.S. Marine. Finn is best known as the frontman of the acclaimed rock band The Hold Steady, with whom he has released six studio albums. Finn will perform a solo acoustic set Saturday, July 15, featuring songs from We All Want the Same Things, his third solo album. 

Each evening session is devoted to two presenters, and on two nights, married couples will present. Times and locations on campus vary, so details are specified for each day.

Saturday, July 15, 7 p.m., Black Box Theatre, Benedictine Hall  (facing State Road 52 at the west end of the campus). Novelist Ian Stansel will read from his debut novel, The Last Cowboys of San Geronimo. Stansel updates the American Western in taut, cinematic prose. Stansel’s reading will be followed by a solo acoustic performance by musician Craig Finn

Sunday, July 16, 5:30 p.m., TECO Hall, Tapia School of Business.  Two faculty members in the Saint Leo master’s program will read from their work. Author Tom Bligh’s recent short story, Breezeway,  was honored by the Maryland Arts Council, and his work has appeared in publications including The Cincinnati Review  (fiction) and the Oxford American (nonfiction). Saint Leo alumna Brooke King writes fiction, nonfiction, and poetry about her experiences as a U.S. Army veteran of the Iraq war. She also teaches nonfiction in the Master of Arts creative writing program. King is at work on her memoir Full Battle Rattle,  and has had shorter works published in O-Dark-Thirty and and in the anthology Home of the Brave: Somewhere in the Sand.

Monday, July 17, 5:30 p.m., TECO Hall, Tapia School of Business. Literary and marriage partners Allison Joseph and Jon Tribble will present. Both hold positions at Southern Illinois University, where Joseph teaches poetry and edits the literary journal Crab Orchard Review. Joseph is the author of 17 books and chapbooks of poetry, including the recent Voice, and Mercurial, both from Mayapple Press. Tribble is managing editor of the journal, which has existed for 20 years. He is the author of the 2017 release, And There is Many a Good Thing, from Salmon Poetry

Tuesday, July 18, 5:30 p.m., TECO Hall, Tapia School of Business. Another married couple will present during the same hour, David Kirby and Barbara Hamby, who are on the faculty of Florida State University in Tallahassee. Kirby is a highly respected poet, essayist, critic, and children’s author. He has received many awards and honors including the Lifetime Achievement Award for Writing from the Florida Humanities Council in 2016. His most recent collection of poetry is called Get Up, Please.  Hamby is a scholar who also writes poetry, nonfiction, and short fiction, and has received several distinguished fellowships and grants. Her most recent book is On the Street of Divine Love: New and Selected Poems, from the University of Pittsburgh Press. 

Wednesday, July 19, 5:30 p.m., TECO Hall, Tapia School of Business.  Steve Kistulentz, director of the Saint Leo graduate program in creative writing, will read from his forthcoming novel Panorama, to be published by Little, Brown & Company in early in 2018. He will be joined by Anne Barngrover, an assistant professor of English and creative writing at Saint Leo University. Barngrover is the author of three collections of poetry, including Brazen Creature, forthcoming in 2018 from the University of Akron Press.

Thursday, July 20, 5:30 p.m., TECO Hall, Tapia School of Business.  Tampa native, poet, and Saint Leo faculty member Gianna Russo will present along with colleague Patrick Crerand, who teaches both in the graduate creative writing program and undergraduate English and writing courses. Russo is known locally for founding and running the Sandhill Writers Retreat at Saint Leo University, a one-day workshop held each year in May. Her most recent collection of published poetry is called Moonflower. Crerand co-founded and edits the online literary journal Lightning Key Review

Friday, July 21, 5:30 p.m., TECO Hall, Tapia School of Business.  The series concludes with presentations from novelist and literary podcaster Tom McAllister  and author-filmmaker-actor-photographer-Marine veteran Benjamin Busch. McAllister’s debut novel The Young Widower’s Handbook  was published in early 2017 by Algonquin Books to strong reviews from Publisher’s Weekly,Booklist, and others. His next novel How to be Safe  comes out in early 2018. The multi-talented Busch may draw on his experiences from being deployed as a Marine officer to Iraq in 2003 and 2005. His literary debut Dust to Dust: A Memoir  was published to wide praise. He also created three photographic exhibits from the images he captured in Iraq. Busch’s most recent film is a drama from 2011 called Bright. Busch acted in the film in addition to writing the script and directing it.

The Saint Leo University Master of Arts in creative writing is a two-year, low-residency program that offers tracks of study in fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. It is also the only graduate creative writing program in the country that offers an optional track of study in veterans writing and war literature. Learn more by visiting Saint Leo Universities Master of Arts in Creative Writing. 


Media contact:For more information, interviews, or photos, contact Jo-Ann Johnston, Saint Leo University academic communications manager, (352) 588-8237/ (352) 467-0843 (cell/text), or email her at